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Wine for Events

While there are no exact numbers for the amount of food and drink that will be consumed by any group of people, the following chart is a general guide that professional caterers use. When in doubt, buy more of the items you know your particular group of attendees tends to enjoy. Unopened wine can be stored in a cool, dark place and enjoyed later. Depending on what you may or may not know about the preferences of your planned guests, you may want to split the recommended number of bottles among a few different varietals of wine.

Number of Guests Two Hour Party Four Hour Party
4 Guests 3 750ml Bottles 4 750ml Bottles
8 Guests 6 750ml Bottles 8 750ml Bottles
12 Guests 8 750ml Bottles 12 750ml Bottles
20 Guests 15 750ml Bottles 20 750ml Bottles
50 Guests 34 750ml Bottles 50 750ml Bottles

This table assumes one serving of wine is equal to about 5 ounces (about 5 servings per 750 ml of wine). If purchasing larger format bottles/boxes of wine, just use the following servings per container to make your calculations: 1.5L yields 10 glasses, 3L yields 20 glasses, 4L yields 27 glasses and 5L yields 33 glasses.

Mixed Drinks/Cocktails

When planning to serve mixed drinks/cocktails for an event, plan on each cocktail containing 1.5 ounces of spirits. Using that measure, you will get the following number of cocktails per bottle:

  • 750 ml bottle will yield 17 drinks
  • Liter bottle will yield 22 drinks
  • 1.75 L bottle will yield 39 drinks

If you are planning to offer a mixture of spirits, estimate how much vodka, gin, bourbon, etc., you will need, based on the number of drinks per bottle (above) and your best guess as to your guests’ preferences. When planning an event where cocktails will be served, the following guide is helpful:

If you’re having this number of guests For pre-dinner cocktails, you’ll average For a party (4 hrs) with finger food, you’ll average
4 Guests 8-12 Drinks (1 750ml bottle) 12-16 Drinks (2 750ml bottles)
6-8 Guests 12-24 Drinks (2 750ml bottles) 18-32 Drinks (2 750ml bottles)
12 Guests 24-36 Drinks (3 750ml bottles) 26-48 Drinks (3 750ml bottles)
20 Guests 40-60 Drinks (4 750ml bottles) 60-80 Drinks (5 750ml bottles)
25 Guests 50-75 Drinks (5 750ml bottles) 75-100 Drinks (7 750ml bottles)
40 Guests 80-120 Drinks (8 750ml bottles) 120-160 Drinks (10 750ml bottles)

And don’t forget the ice!! You’ll need a minimum of 5 pounds of ice for 4 to 6 people, 10 pounds for 8 to 12 people, 20 pounds for 12 to 20 people, 40 pounds for 20 to 40 people. The longer the party lasts, the more ice you will need.

Home Bar Inventory List

In addition to the wine and/or spirits and ice, a well-stocked home bar will include many of the following items:


[one_third]Fruit Juices
Tomato Juice
Ginger Ale
Club Soda
Tonic Water
Coconut Cream[/one_third][one_third]Aromatic bitters
Triple Sec
Lemon/Lime Wedges
Orange Slices
Fresh Bananas, Strawberries, Pineapple
Maraschino Cherries
Worcestershire Sauce
Tabasco Sauce[/one_third][one_third_last]Sugar
Lime Juice Coarse Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
Pitted Olives
Pearl Onions
Simple Syrup (see recipe below)
Sweet & Sour Mix[/one_third_last]

Useful Party Bar Tools/Glassware
Citrus Squeezer
Fine Strainer
Bottle Openers (wine/beer)
Cocktail Shaker
Stir Rod[/one_third][one_third]Short & Long Toothpicks
Sharp Pairing Knife
Ice Bucket
Ice Tongs
Highball Glasses
Sour Glasses
Old Fashioned Glasses[/one_third][one_third_last]Cocktail Glasses
Wine Glasses
Champagne Glasses
Punchbowl with Cups
Mugs or other heat-proof Glass

Recipe for Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is called for in many drink recipes as a sweetener to offset the tartness of some juices used in their recipes and should be made ahead of time as follows and stored in the refrigerator until used. In a saucepan, gradually stir one pound of granulated sugar into 13 ounces of hot water to make 16 ounces of simple syrup. Granulated sugar does not dissolve easily in cold drinks, but this simple sugar syrup, being liquid, is the perfect alternative.

Party Bar Tips

  • Always use a jigger (1 ½ ounce) to measure your liquor. Don’t guess. Your liquor will go further.
  • To make glassware really sparkle, wash in warm water, dry with a towel, polish with a fresh dry towel.
  • Chill cocktail glasses in refrigerator before serving.
  • Carbonated drinks should never be stirred vigorously. Always hold soda bottle at an angle when opening. This preserves the sparkle and minimized foaming over.
  • When adding an olive to a drink, always pierce it with a toothpick. It is more convenient for the guests.
  • Use cherries with stems.
  • A melted ice cube makes 2 to 2 1/2 ounces of water. To take the snowy look from ice cubes, sprinkle them with lukewarm water.
  • Rub the lip of your whiskey bottle with waxed paper before pouring. This prevents dripping.
  • Fresh fruit juice makes a drink taste much better.
  • To rim a cocktail glass, dip the rim of the glass in ¼” of lemon or lime juice (depending on the cocktail) and the n in granulated sugar or salt as called for by the drink. Pour cocktail to just below the sugar line.
  • If you plan on serving a punch or bowl drink, make your own ice! Simply fill a smaller bowl or milk carton and put in the freezer. For special effects, color the water with orange juice, add fruit, etc. One large piece of ice will last longer and will also dilute the punch far less than a bunch of individual cubes.
  • When pouring hot drinks, to avoid cracking, place spoon in glass or mug before pouring.
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